Hot off his third-place finish at the World Barista Championships in Seattle in April, two-time Canadian Barista title-holder Ben Put is hard at work getting a new venture up and running.
By Lawrence Herzog
Put and fellow Calgary coffee crafters Jeremy Ho and Justin Eyford have founded Monogram Coffee, with a location in the Altadore Shopping Centre and a pop-up in DaDe Art and Design Lab in Inglewood.
The trio, who worked together at Calgary’s acclaimed Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters, share a passion for exceptional coffee. With a top-end La Marzocco Linea PB espresso machine and French press, pour over, and pastries from Corbeaux Bakehouse, this new coffeehouse is quickly gaining an enthusiastic following.
“We love Phil & Sebastian and learned a lot there, but we really wanted to start our own independent shop with our own vibe,” Put says. “If you go on a café crawl in Vancouver, there are 15 to 20 cafés you can go to that are all a bit different and unique and which reflect the personalities of their owners. I’d love to see that more in Calgary.”
For their first Monogram location, they chose a diminutive space with cozy neighbourhood vibe. “We built most of it ourselves, and we are learning along the way,” he explains. “With a larger space, if you make some big mistakes, you could be $20,000 behind. We wanted to start small and get our feet underneath us, and it’s been very successful.”
Monogram’s beans are coming from Transcend Coffee in Edmonton, which roasted the beans he used at the World’s and where he worked as a trainer in 2005. “One of the coolest things about coffee is that working connections become lifelong connections,” he says.
They’re looking at growing locations – slowly – and building a solid team. “Similar to cities like Melbourne, Australia, more Canadian cafés are expanding their menus and enticing their clientele with new beverage and food items. It’s a super exciting time for Canadian coffee with all the growth and passion, and we’re just so happy to be part of it.”
As far as competing again? “Well, I told my wife that if I placed top six in the World’s, I would quit,” he laughs. “I’ve competed for six years now, and it takes time and effort and does get in the way of vacations and stuff like that. But when I placed third, my wife knew I would compete again. It gets in your blood, and you think about competition every day. The only sure way to stop is to win at World’s, I think.”